Friday 9th July

Today’s previews by Imogen Ridgway

The Good Cook

7.30pm, BBC1 ★ ★ ★

Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Chicken And Other Stories (published back in 1994) was once voted the most useful cookery book of all time. And what a marvellous book it is. There are no glossy pictures or posed portraits; what you get instead are stories about ingredients that just happen to include recipes. It’s the kind of cookery book you can read on a sun-lounger.


So how exciting that Mr Hopkinson has a new prime-time BBC1 cooking series! Surely Hopkinson’s straightforward yet supremely engaging way with words will shake up a genre that has become dominated by glimpses of the alleged lifestyle of the featured chef or silly close-ups of droplets of olive oil.

Alas, not quite. The Good Cook is presented from what we assume is Hopkinson’s stylishly decorated flat and, when we’re not in the kitchen, we see snippets of Hopkinson shopping in the market or buying booze (in a tastefully arranged shop rather than the skanky off-licence on the corner). And before he even starts cooking, in the foreground we see a needle on a record player, announcing the slightly-too-loud, sometimes-Motown background music that accompanies his every move.

But don’t despair completely. This is Simon Hopkinson, after all. Not only does the food Hopkinson prepares during this opener look outstanding – or even heavenly, in the case of the salade nicoise – but he packs in five recipes. Also, technology fans, if you have Quick Response on your smartphone, you can scan in an on-screen code in order to get ingredient details.
Hopkinson says he will show us “how professional secrets can transform good food into amazing food”. He’s not wrong. Prepare to salivate over scallops in a beurre blanc and gaze in awe at a baked pasta dish that doesn’t use any crazy ingredients yet looks better than any after-work tagliatelle we’ve ever made.

Yes, there are times when the presentation makes you long for a podcast of Roast Chicken And Other Stories instead, but try to ignore the unnecessary slow-motion sequences, Apprentice-esque aerial shots of London and squiggly-writing graphics telling us the ingredients. Just think about the food instead.

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It’s Cuban Missile Crisis time in The Kennedys (9pm and 9.45pm, BBC2). And, as if that wasn’t enough, it’s 1963 in the second episode of the double bill and the President takes a trip to Dallas…

Meanwhile, if Friday Night is ‘Music Night’ (to coin a phrase), BBC3 has extensive coverage of T In The Park (from 8pm). Reggie Yates and Edith Bowman introduce acts including Jessie J (8pm), Plan B and White Lies (9pm) and Arctic Monkeys (10pm). And on BBC4, Troubadours: The Rise Of The Singer/Songwriter (9pm, BBC4) looks at LA during the 1970s, as the legends that are Carole King and James Taylor reminisce about the Troubadour Club in West Hollywood. All sorts of other famous musical types contribute too, including Elton John, Bonnie Raitt and Kris Kristofferson. Oh, and over on ITV2 you can catch highlights of the iTunes Festival (10pm, ITV2) from the Roundhouse in Camden.

Opening the drawer marked Decent American Drama, there are new episodes of  the brilliant In Treatment on Sky Atlantic (10.15pm and 10.50pm), during which Paul must come to terms with the death of his father and April finally starts her chemo. There’s also new Dexter (10pm, FX/HD), guest-starring Julia Stiles as the good-intentioned serial killer’s new protege.

And of course Friday night needs its quota of chat shows. Alan Carr: Chatty Man (10pm, Channel 4) is visited by Eddie Izzard, Paul O’Grady Live (9pm, ITV1) welcomes Michelle Collins and Nicola Roberts, and The Graham Norton Show (10.35pm, BBC1)… rolls out a compilation of programmes past. Boo.
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Fifth Gear – 7.30m, Channel 5

Love Your Garden – 8pm, ITV1

Danger: Diggers At Work – 8pm, Channel 5

Come Dine With Me – 8pm, Channel 4

Eight Out Of Ten Cats – 9pm, Channel 4

Castle – 9pm, Channel 5

Big Love – 9pm, Sky Atlantic

King Of… – 9.30pm, Channel 4

The Review Show – 11pm, BBC2

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Emmerdale – 7pm, ITV1

Let’s see then, in Gennie and Jimmy we’ve got two people desperate to start or resuscitate relationships but neither of the Double Nicks (Nikhil and Nicola… what? You don’t think that’ll catch on?) are seemingly interested. So what do they do? Obviously they have a few drinks together and then go back to Jimmy’s house. File under “NOT GOING TO END WELL”. Actually, we’d better make sure that’s a big file because it’ll have to have room for Alicia and Andy’s plans to move to Spain too. Especially since tonight the big-biceped one is telling little Sarah that he’ll never leave her. Er, how’s that going to work then…? (Ceri Thomas)

EastEnders – 8pm, BBC1

As the dust settles on last night’s drama, it’s no surprise to find that Jack is not at all happy with his old pal Michael, and is out to get him (and no, not to share that holiday to Mexico). Elsewhere, Janine gets some news that will change her life. It would be nice if it were that Barry is back from the dead and coming to find her. But it’s not. Oh well, maybe one day… (Terry Ramsey)

Coronation Street – 7.30 & 8.30pm, ITV1

Look, make sure you’re sitting down with a strong drink to hand before you read on, okay? Are you ready and braced? Here goes… it looks like unconvincing lesbian #1 Sophie might have made an almighty fuck up in transferring that chunk of her dad Kevin’s money to the hostel. I know, I know… we were stunned too! Meanwhile, Fiz faces a dreadful future. That’s right, Ches and Hayley are about to visit her in prison… (Ceri Thomas)

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Gilda / The Killers – 9pm / 10.50pm, Sky Classics


Yes, there are plenty of newer, brighter blockbusters scattered around the schedules, but you’d struggle to find two more nearly perfect flicks than this film noir double bill on Sky Classics. Gilda sees the ludicrously beautiful Rita Hayworth as the femme fatale playing off her mobster husband and his equally untrustworthy lieutenant Glenn Ford. It may have been made in 1946, but its acidly amoral tone hasn’t dated much, if at all. Also from 1946 is The Killers, based on an Ernest Hemingway story. Told in flashback as an investigator tries to piece together what happened to a murdered boxer, it’s bleak, clever and compelling. It’s also the film debut of one Burt Lancaster… (Ceri Thomas)

Worth A Look…

Grown Ups – 8pm, Sky Premiere

Get Him To The Greek – 8pm, Sky Comedy

The Devil Wears Prada – 9pm, Film4

Bad Santa – 9pm, 5*

The Mask – 9pm, Watch

Tango & Cash – 9pm, ITV4

The Lost Boys – 9pm, TCM

Predators – 9.45pm, Sky Showcase

48hrs – 9.50pm, Sky Comedy

Tigerland – 10pm, More4

Sleepers – 10pm, ITV3

Bram Stoker’s Dracula – 10pm, Sky Modern Greats

Backdraft – 10.35pm, ITV1

Darkman – 10.50pm, Syfy

Bowfinger – 11pm, ITV2

The Book Of Eli – 11pm, Sky Action/Adventure

The Beach – 11.10pm, Film4

The Lord Of War – 11.30pm, BBC1

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